A lot of people, hopefully not you, are living lives of glamorized, self inflicted, slavery. I've debated writing about this for a while, because of the connotation, but it's something I think about constantly. Sometimes I see someone working and I realize that they don't have the freedom to spend their days according to their own discretion. I try to empathize and imagine what it might be like, and as a result I feel a twinge of panic. It's unfathomable.
Time is all we have. If you're in a job that you don't enjoy, and you're not consistently saving up money, you are wasting your time. I don't care if you have a Porsche or a Schwinn, a penthouse or a room in a subleased apartment on the fringes of town. You can say that life is short, or you can say that it's long, but either way, it's finite. Today's the last day just like today that you have.
There's no conspiracy in play, trying to turn people into slaves. It's simpler than that: people take the path of least responsibility, and thus put the control of their lives into other people's hands. Why do so many people give up the best hours of the best days of their lives? Because it takes no thought. Everyone else gets a full time job, so why not?
On the other end of things, everyone raises their spending level to match their income. You can blame the advertisers, or you can give people a little more credit and concede that maybe they had some role in the process, too. People spend and spend on luxuries that don't matter, fueling these purchases with the relinquishment of the biggest luxury in life: time. Debt and acclimatization to faux luxury ratchet up the addiction to the paycheck, making it harder and harder for the worker to leave.
So what's my suggestion? Well, if I was a slave in 19th century America, I would run. And if I was a slave in 21st century America, I would still run. You don't have to know where you're going to know that you're not where you want to be. Plan your escape and run.
If I stopped writing here, I'd get comments from people saying that they need the security and money of a job and can't just leave. I disagree. There are tons of illegal Mexican immigrants who are working for below minimum wage and are STILL sending money back to Mexico. They live on almost no money, and they're people just like you. Like lots of things worth doing, claiming your freedom takes effort, and maybe even sacrifice.
Not every job is slavery, of course. My friend Ben works as a researcher for clinical trials. That would be slavery to me, but he loves it. Like any other job, the company is using Ben to further itself, but Ben is also using the company to further himself. He couldn't do clinical research alone.
My friend Tarzen is a masseuse. He likes his work, too, but he lives humbly and works only three days a week. When his employer tried to get him to work more, he said, "Sorry, I work three days a week and live life for the rest of them." He knows what his priorities are, and his actions reflect that.
I have another friend, Luke, who started a DNA sequencing company. He works constantly, and is actually considering moving into an RV so that he can sleep in the parking lot of the office building. He works harder and longer hours than 90% of people, but he's building something and trying to change the world. He has his freedom, and he's using it to work. There's a big difference between that and slavery.
The worst possible thing you can do is work a job you don't like and spend all the money. Let your work be something you like to do, and if you can't do that, make sure you're saving your money so that you can create work that you like to do.
Photo was taken at a Khmer Rouge torture camp in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
If you have a ProSine 2.0 Inverter, please email me!
Travel: Just got back from LA / San Diego / Austin / Harbin Hot Springs. Going to Portland this weekend to check out an RV for a friend and drive it back with him.
Book recommendation (I actually have about 10 of these that I need to write in detail about): Good Calories, Bad Calories. It's very thorough and compelling, and I'm only halfway through.
Thanks for reading!
If you paid me fifty times what I make now to work at a regular job, I wouldn't do it.
Over the past few weeks I've informally asked some of my other entrepreneur friends how much they'd have to be paid to work a normal job in their industry. None of them quoted any reasonable figure. Some of them didn't want to answer the question because it was so uncomfortable to think about.
When Justin Frankel, creator of Winamp, quit AOL, he was offered a job by Microsoft. They asked what he needed to work there, and he responded with a written offer. In his list of necessities were things like a private jet, the ability to work remotely 100% of the time, and all boat rental fees to be reimbursed. It was a joke, but he sent it to them anyway. That's how abhorrent the idea of a real job was to him.
August 11th, 2011. Chiba, Japan.
A mix of confusion and awe as I step off the platform.
I must have made a mistake. But maybe a good mistake.
Birds caw and cicadas click gently, filling the warm afternoon air with sounds of nature. The train platform is open to the air and on the other side of the tracks is a high fence. Beyond it, a bicycle and walking path leading to a park.
Children are running around and playing in the park, but surprisingly quietly. Very Japanese.